John Therry Catholic High School, Rosemeadow Year 9 student, Olivia Torres, was recently announced as a winner in the OzKids 2018 Young Australian Art and Writers’ Awards competition, for a poem she composed on the theme of war. In November, Olivia and her parents were flown to Melbourne to attend the awards ceremony and dinner.
The OzKids Young Australian Art and Writers’ Awards have become a high-profile national event, celebrating the artistic and literary talents of Australian children and young people. They encourage a love of reading and writing and inspire children to commit their thoughts and ideas to paper, instilling an appreciation of literature and the arts.
The Awards provide an opportunity for children to have their work assessed by a panel of authors and published in the OzKids' quarterly magazine that is distributed on a national basis and also published online.
The magazine provides a vehicle for children to appreciate and develop their skills and encourages them to continue in the arts, especially when they can see their work published.
During Term 3, the Year 9 English classes at John Therry studied war poetry under the theme, 'Love and Squalor'. Students engaged in a variety of poetry from World War 1, World War 2 and the Vietnam War. Their final task was to create their own voice, exploring a perspective in response to the 'war on terror'.
Each student was invited to create, annotate and present their work to their respective class. The standard was extremely high and as a result, John Therry entered eight students into the senior category of the awards.
Olivia Torres was announced as the successful winner for her for her poem, 'Remaining', in the senior division - Best Poetry from a Secondary School.
Like all the other girls, she’d waved him off kissed his head,
and clutched his hands “Come back safe!” she’d said.
She lay in her white nightgown, waiting for sleep’s mothering arms
And whispered goodnight.
The vastness of their distance, felt in more ways than one. The ending of their Earthly exchange, measured in the length of a letter. The untold story of lovers in war, pain felt by those who have, and will, come after.
Excerpts from Olivia's poem.
Olivia's teacher, Assistant English Coordinator, Siobhan Moore said this was an incredible achievement, as there were over 5000 applicants. Miss Moore said she is extremely proud of what Olivia has achieved. “Olivia’s poem is beyond her years.”
As a result of Olivia's exceptional creativity and writing ability, Olivia and her family were flown to Melbourne to take part in an awards ceremony at the RACV City Club.
When asked what inspired her, Olivia said that she hadn’t seen any stories or movies about romantic love in war, and so she decided to try writing one herself. “Throughout writing my poem, I kept thinking of all the loves separated and taken away because of war and how it affected those involved,” she said.
"The repetitive use of visual imagery gives plain and clear insight into the feelings of both parties. I have chosen this language device to be central, as I didn't want the reader to be left wondering, to know what it means," said Olivia.
Olivia shared that she was really surprised and didn’t quite believe it at first when she was told about her prize. “It took some time to sink in. Being in Melbourne with my parents was a lot of fun and I had a wonderful time. The dinner and awards ceremony was an exciting experience and one that I will never forget.”
Miss Moore is currently putting together the writing created by the Year 9.8 English class, into an anthology of war poems. Once completed, two printed copies will be made to be located - and much enjoyed - in the school’s guest foyer and library as a legacy of the student’s fantastic work.